Return to Running

Since about May of last year I’ve been trying to get some consistent exercise. I’ve mainly focused on biking but it has presented it problems. First, I’m kind of lazy. That’s not a particular problem with cycling though. My second problem has been free time. I found it hard to grab 2.5 – 3hrs to go for a ride. It shouldn’t have been that hard really, looking back at the summer I guess I just had a mix of homework, school, kids and family trips to deal with. Near the end of summer I got back on the bike trainer in the garage and that started off pretty good. By the end of October though, I was again swamped with work, homework for the MET program and kids. With Mercy working night shifts, I didn’t have an opportunity to duck into the garage in the evening or morning to do a workout. So a couple of weeks I decided to try running again.

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with running is pain in my shins. Years ago I saw a sports med doctor and it was diagnosed as chronic compartment syndrome. Anyways, I went for a couple of walk/runs (1min run, 2min walk) and sure enough I had quite a bit of pain in shins. I then thought back to some things I had read on Joe Friel’s blog, and how he is a big proponent of mid-foot landing. Thinking a bit about this, I recognized that I run with landing on my heel with my front foot extended forwards of my body. It seemed reasonable to try and run landing on my mid-foot and reduce some of the stretch in my ankle (ie pointing my toes up or down). A little bit more research led me to the Pose method of running, which seemed to focus on landing on the balls of the feet and keeping the landing underneath the runner’s center of gravity.

I’ve borrowed the Pose running dvd from the library and have looked over the technique presented and some of the training exercises. One of the most interested bits about it is that they say that research shows that forward running speed is not dependent upon forces that your foot pushes forward on the ground. I think this is intuitively what we think: we move forward by pushing our bodies with our feet. Instead, the research indicates (apparently) that our forward movement is created by the torque created as our center of gravity falls forward, pivoting about the point where our feet touch the ground. So with the Pose method of running, the idea is that the leading foot should stay underneath the center of gravity, and speed is created by leaning forward and quickening the running pace. From my perspective, I was more interested in the techniques which I hoped would reduce the impact and strain on my shin.

It’s been about a week and I’ve done 3 runs, going up to a 1.5/2min run/walk split, without having any pain in my shins. I’m not sure I have very “Pose” technique yet, but so far I am cautiously optimistic. We’ll see what happens as I increase the time and intensity. I’m still finding it tricky to find time to run. My day typically starts at 6:30, then it’s work until 4:30ish when I have to take the kids to some type of activity (soccer, swimming, aikido, playdate), then dinner, help the kids with reading and then it’s 8pm and I’m pretty tired – and I might have homework to do.

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